Everyone poops and NASA hasn’t changed much about how astronauts relieve themselves in the black void since it designed its very first space toilets. We’re guessing it doesn’t look like a 5-star hotel’s restroom.
According to Business Insider, the US space agency is calling on the world’s inventors to develop a toilet that works not just in microgravity, but also lunar gravity on a future lunar lander spacecraft, as part of its plans to return to the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis mission.
Yesterday, HeroX – the social network for innovation and the world’s leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, launched the crowdsourcing competition “Lunar Loo” on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Program.
The winning design will receive $20,000 (RM85K), with $10,000 (RM42K) for second place and $5,000 (RM21K) for third. Children under the age of 18 are also encouraged to apply in a “junior” category where the prizes are public recognition and NASA-themed merchandise.
NASA posted the announcement and said, “This challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment,” but that’s trickier than you think…
The guidelines for the challenge say the toilet should be easy to clean, maintain and have a “5-minute turnaround time or less between uses.” Competitive toilet designs will be easy for the astronauts to use, and they should conserve water while containing smells.
NASA’s guidelines also say the new toilet must:
- Function in both microgravity and lunar gravity.
- Have a mass of less than 15 Kg in Earth’s gravity.
- Occupy a volume no greater than 0.12 m3.
- Consume less than 70 Watts of power.
- Operate with a noise level less than 60 decibels (no louder than an average bathroom fan).
- Accommodate both female and male users.
- Accommodate users ranging from 58 to 77 inches tall and 107 to 290 lbs in weight.
The deadline for the competition is 17 August 2020, and “bonus points will be awarded to designs that can capture vomit without requiring the crew member to put his/her head in the toilet”.
Well, those are some specific requirements, but as Malaysians, we should be accustomed to complicated loos.
What say you? To accept the challenge, visit https://www.herox.com/lunarloo now!
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